"Soldier's Curse"

By: Brenna "Snakelady" Dawkins

A Dukes of Hazzard Fanfic

Part 1

Summary: Dukes/MASH Crossover, Luke discovers there are some ghosts that will always haunt him from his time in Viet Nam. Jesse tries to console him with a tale of his own back in Korea

Ratings: R

Disclaimer: Dukes of Hazzard is owned by Gy Waldron, Paul Picard, and Warner Brothers

Luke woke up in a sweat despite the fact that it was snowing outside. His heart was pounding and his breath came grudgingly in short gasps. He wildly took stock of his surroundings and discovered he was not in a hot and steamy jungle where one found that bullets whizzed past your face more often then mosquitoes but was in his room back on the Duke farm.

He let his head fall back on his pillow and his hand tiredly scrubbed at his distressed face. Slightly tilting his head, he could see the clock on his nightstand. Only three thirty. They'd have to get up in an hour or so to start the daily routine. He didn't feel like he'd gotten any sleep at all. Luke felt wrung out, almost as bad as the time when they had to bug out and the Cong was hot on their heels… no. He shook his head vehemently. No use going down that road again. The dark haired Duke knew he wouldn't see any more sleep that night. He'd gone almost thirty hours without sleep before… but that was a different place, a different time… a whole different reason.

He tumbled out of bed and grabbed up a clean set of clothes. Then he quietly went to try to wash the blood of however many he'd killed off his sinful hands. The shower ran the hot water over his body, cleansing its surface, but not what lay beneath.

'I'm a murderer.' Luke thought bitterly. 'Just 'cause it were for my country don't make it any less so.'

The eldest Duke boy wondered how his family could stomach having him stay under their own roof. Again he shuddered at a remembered evil act he'd done… one of many. Too many, he lamented morosely.

It'd been a week since he'd gotten back, his tour of duty officially over. He might never have to fight in a physical war again, but at least even during a war, there was downtime. Luke had quickly found there was never any downtime from his active mind as it rehashed bits and pieces of some of the most deplorable acts of man over and over again.

'Is that what a man does? Does a real man look upon those demons he created and ignore? But how can I? If anything, I am the demon. How can they still love me? They don't know what I did!'

Luke pounded the tile of the shower with a closed fist. When he looked at it, he envisioned it coated in blood.

'I killed him… he was just a boy… a boy like Bo…'

The dark haired Duke felt his stomach roll with that thought. He shakily knelt down in the shower and threw up into the drain. There wasn't much in his stomach by that time so it wasn't long before all he had was dry heaves tearing through his gut. Trembling, he stood back up again and let the water clean off his mouth and face then he stumbled out of the tub and sat heavily on the toilet with the water still running in the shower. He dripped water all over the porcelain surface, the novelty of getting to use real showers and real toilets in real privacy was lost in the moment of grief and bitter disgust towards himself.

He sat there for quite some time until he thought to turn off the shower. It was cold by the time he'd gotten to it. His family would be none too pleased at getting to take cold showers that morning, he knew. Shuddering, he toweled off and wondered why he was allowed to have lived when so many had died. They all had families too, just like him. They had people who loved them, missed them.

'Why was I spared, Lord?' Luke asked his maker for the millionth time, feeling guilt over being one of the few lucky who made it back safely and whole. 'I can't bear the torment. I ain't strong 'nuff! War don' make yas strong, all it does is weaken the spirit! I'm not who I was 'fore I left. I'll ne'er be that person again. I'm a stranger to these people. They loved the Luke Duke that left for war, not the Sergeant Duke that came back to them after! They don't know him! They don't know him at all!'

Luke stood there looking in the mirror. Even after having cleaned himself up, he looked haggard. That shocked him a bit. Running his fingers through his beard, he decided to shave it off. When he'd gotten back stateside, he'd let the beard grow to hide his face. Now the very sight of it sickened him. He lathered himself up with shaving cream and shed it off. Once a mound of foam mixed with facial hair lay in the sink, he stared at himself again in the mirror. He tried to see if he could find the old Luke somewhere in that gaze that was staring back at him. Some ghost of himself to let him know it would be eventually alright and that Sgt. Duke had no place there on the farm, that it was time to be Luke Duke again.

But all that he saw was Sgt Duke's cold eyes peering back quizzically, as if daring him to face him down.

"They want the old Luke Duke back."

He told the image in the mirror. All it seemed to do was laugh back at him.

"I want Luke Duke back!" Luke said more fiercely under his breath.

'Then come and get him! You yourself said yas ain't strong 'nuff! You need me! I was the one that got you through 'that' alive!' It seemed to say back at him haughtily.

"I'm home, there ain't no war in Hazzard, 'cept the one between Uncle Jesse and Boss Hogg, and even that one ain't needin' the likes of you!" Luke hissed.

'You need me.' It went on. 'I'm the one who saved all those lives in your platoon!'

"At the loss of how many others?" He demanded his hated reflection.

'They were the enemy. It's kill or be killed. It's what happens in war. You knew it when you enlisted.'

Luke shook his head. "I went to serve my country!"

He hadn't known… not really. He'd heard short recounts from Uncle Jesse about Korea, but Jesse wasn't very inclined to talk about that part of his past to anyone. Maybe Uncle Jesse was hiding from his own demons as well, Luke suddenly wondered.

'How very patriotic of you!' The image said unkindly.

Luke's fists balled up and he realized he still held the straight razor. His head dropped down to look at it, still covered in foam and short strands of hair. Bits of the shiny metal winked at him. His thumb ran over the keen edge firm enough that it wouldn't take much effort to slice through the skin. He saw blood on those hands. Other peoples bloods. The blood of young boys who would never know what it would be like to become men. All because of him… Sgt. Luke Duke.

'Is that how you want to go out then? The cowards way?' The image was still there even though he wasn't looking at it. But he could 'hear' him in his mind.

Luke threw the razor across the room so that it landed with a clink in the shower, disgusted with himself for having even contemplated suicide. He survived a bloody war while many others did not. It would have been selfish of him to have thrown away something that others would never get a chance at. He stared back at the accusing mirror… at Sgt. Duke.

"I'm a coward."

'Not when I'm around. You charge into enemy territory, you have the command of your peers, and respect of your commanders, you do what needs to be done! You need me.'

Luke's anguished eyes glared at the hated image that was him, and yet not. He knew he was defeated. Sgt. Duke was there to stay whether he wanted him to or not.

"This is Hazzard, not Viet Nam."

'Your body may be in Hazzard, but you're still fighting the war over there. You need me for as long as you continue to do so.'

Luke had braced himself against the sink with both hands as he studied the image.

"Am I in there anywhere?" He wondered.

'Maybe.' It said.

"Can I get him back if he is?"

'Wars can't be fought without your troops backing you up.'

Luke stared and was too wrung out to fully comprehend. He jumped when he heard a knock on the bathroom door.

"Luke? You in there? Who ya talkin' to?" Bo's voice was muffled on the other side.

"Just myself, Bo." Luke said tiredly and ran the water in the sink to clean out his mess. He shook his head when he could have sworn he saw blood mixed in with that foam. 'It will never leave me.' He thought morosely. Luke picked up his towels and pajamas and opened the door, forcing a pleasant mask on his face for his cousins sake.

"Just need to use the toilet." He looked at Luke then, noticing the young man was already dressed for the day and that he'd shaved. "Glad you got rid of that thing. You look more like you without the beard, Cuz."

Luke flinched a bit at that, remembering what Sgt. Duke had said.

Bo noticed the flinch and his face turned into one of concern. "Luke? Everything alright?"

Luke cursed at himself for making Bo worry about him. Bo'd worried enough about him when he was away fighting, he didn't have any right to make the boy worry about him now that he was safe at home too! Luke forced a grin that didn't reach his eyes.

"Yeah, I'm alright, Cuz." He hated lying outright to Bo, it made him sick to do it, but he couldn't burden Bo with his horrors. He couldn't make sweet, innocent Bo unclean. "Just shivered at the draft. Think we need to check the seals on those storm windows later today."

Bo hadn't felt a draft but he didn't press Luke any further. He wasn't even one hundred percent sure it was a flinch.

"Well, okay, Luke. Ya knows we got least an hour 'fore we gotta 'ffically get up, right?"

Luke shrugged as he and Bo switched places so the blonde could use the facility. "Used to sleeping light and not for very long." Well, that much was true.

Bo nodded and closed the door, his mind on Luke. He was worried for his elder cousin. Jesse had warned him and Daisy that Luke would act different when he got home and for them both to make his transition back into civilian life as painless as they could. That included not pressing Luke to talk about whatever was bothering him until he was ready. Bo knew his cousin well enough to know that there was something dreadfully wrong. He was somewhat afraid to find out what it was. He knew horrible things happened over in Viet Nam but he couldn't imagine Luke doing anything like that. He'd heard of the raping and killing off of whole villages and of other such atrocities. He knew Luke. The Duke was brought up just like he had been and knew that such things were acts against God. He believed in his cousin that was more like a brother to him then anything else.

'What's bothering you, Luke?' Bo worried to himself as he took his time in the bathroom.

He remembered when Luke and him could talk about anything and everything when they couldn't talk to no one else. It hurt him that Luke wouldn't come to him. He wanted to be there for Luke, but Luke wouldn't even talk to him. Sure, he'd mentioned some of his friends in his unit, mentioned a few times they went to Ho Chi Minh City on leave and what not. Bo had laughed at the funny sounding names of the exotic local. It was all a world away from him and he'd never even left the state of Georgia before. Luke was bigger then life more then ever to him, seen and done things that he couldn't imagine. He'd looked forward to hearing tales of glorious battles from his cousin. But that didn't happen. Luke didn't talk much at all of late, especially to him. It saddened Bo. He didn't know what he could do, if there was anything he could do to help his cousin.

All he knew was that Luke was hurting and he wanted to find a way to make things better for him. Out of the corner of Bo's eye, he saw something glinting in the shower. Turning, he frowned thoughtfully at the straight razor laying there in the bottom of the tub. Picking it up, he looked at it for a moment and then wiped it clean and put it away wondering what it was doing there.

Bo glanced at his watch and knew there would be no time to go back to bed and sleep any more, so he went back to the room he and Luke shared and got dressed. He fetched his shoes from the closet and caught sight of Luke's combat boots, gleaming as if they'd been polished recently. Beside Luke's shoes was a small trunk he'd brought back from his service. It was locked and while Bo respected Luke's want for privacy, it pained him to know that there was something that Luke wanted to keep from Bo. He'd never seen the trunk opened and Luke was tight lipped about it whenever he inquired what was in it.

"What are ya keepin' from me, Cousin?" Bo whispered and fought the urge to bust into the thing. "Let me back into your life, please."

Bo then sent up a silent prayer that Luke wasn't to be lost to him forever. He closed the closet and went down to see if Luke was fixing breakfast or at least coffee.

To Be Continued…